DMK chief M K Stalin’s last week ‘Chennai Declaration’ that Rahul Gandhi would be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the united Opposition has failed to enthuse the main Opposition parties not only in other States but also the outfits in Tamil Nadu. Sources close to the DMK’s top leadership told The Pioneer that Stalin’s surprise declaration did not have the endorsement of even his own party colleagues. It may be noted that Durai Murugan, the party treasurer who is the de facto number two in party hierarchy has not responded to the announcement made by his party boss.
Except the leaders of fringe outfits like VCK and Muslim League, no major allies of the DMK has come out in support of the “Rahul for PM” slogan. A veteran Congress leader in the State said that he was happy with the name of any Congressman proposed by the DMK chief.
Though Stalin endeared himself to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi by the declaration, it has failed to enthuse the spirit of the Communist parties. “They are in a dilemma because in neighbouring Kerala, the Communists (both the CPI-M and the CPI) are engaged in a direct battle with the Congress and do not like to be seen n public as allies of the Congress,” said G Satyamurthy, columnist and commentator.
He further stated that Stalin’s out-of-turn statement was proof of the political immaturity of the DMK chief. “If he had planned to play a Karunanidhi, it has ended as a mishap. Stalin is no match for Karunanidhi who was cunning and intelligent,” added Satyamurthy.
Both Satyamurthy and Sam Rajappa, veteran journalist, are of the view that Tamil Nadu was still in a state of fluid following the death of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, the bosses of the AIADMK and the DMK. “They were a class apart and there are no leaders in both the parties to take their positions ,” said Sam Rajappa.
Even TTV Dhinakaran, founder of the AMMK , the breakaway faction of the AIADMK, ruled out projecting Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister. There are some on Tamil Nadu who views Stalin’s move as a pre-emptive strike against a senior Congress leader from Tamil Nadu who has been secretly pushing himself for the post of Prime Minister. “This leader feels that the National Herald case and the Augusta Westland helicopter case would put spokes in the way of the mother-son duo becoming the Prime Minister and he being the senior most leader of the party stands a chance to emerge as a person acceptable to all,” said another senior Congress leader.
His statement might have made him a favourite with the Nehru-Gandhi family but what Stalin lost in the process is the respect he enjoyed among other Opposition leaders like Mamta Banerjee, chief minister of Bengal, Chandra Babu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, said Rajappa. “Many senior leaders of the Opposition parties stayed away from the swearing in of the three Congress chief ministers,” he pointed out. The ‘Chennai Declaration’ has remained a non-starter.